Decorating Dilemmas: Paula’s Townhouse

Updating a 90's townhouse with a neutral and blue color palette

Decorating Dilemmas is a weekly column in which our stylists answer your design questions, so you can tackle your home decorating project with complete confidence.

Dear How to Decorate,

I moved into my townhouse 20 years ago, and since then have not redecorated my living room or dining room. They are in desperate need of an update! Could the decorating dilemma team help me transform my living room/dining room into a beautiful Ballard duo?

I’d like to get rid of all the red and brassy elements, the glass tables and create a serene sophisticated design with warm beige, cream white that has a european flair… you know that, fabulous Ballard look! Of all the furniture, I only want to keep the couch and the console table with the lamps.

Help me escape the 1990s!






Hi Paula,

Here we are to help you freshen up your spaces and usher you into an upgrade in style and color for your living room! You have a nice neutral back drop in your wall color and trim with classic wood floors. A great canvas to begin with. We understand that you would like to keep your existing sofa, which looks similar to our Vintage Vogue Sofa. Please refer to the floor plan we have organized for you to understand placement for your living room.

When you descend the stairs into your living room, you will see dead ahead your focal point and the opportunity for a real visual punch. We have centered your existing sofa on this wall and are suggesting a new slipcover in Danish Linen Oatmeal.


We are grounding your room with the subtly elegant Suzanne Kasler’s Emilyn Rug in 8×10 size. We love playing off the understated blue coloration in the border of the carpet that will compliment your neutral aesthetic. Above the sofa we have placed the tripytic wall art Fresh Birch Art. It echoes the design in the carpet and directs your eye upwards, expanding on the room’s dimensions. We have flanked your sofa with the step backed Emeline Side Table. It is a beautiful and airy selection that provides extra storage and entertaining options. We love the elegant and graceful lines of the Casa Florentina Seraphina Table Lamp in a blue accent color to be placed on the top tier of each side table. We are placing the gorgeous and fun Casa Florentina Herring Handwoven Pillow on the center of sofa. We have selected the Hayes Ottoman upholstered in our Esra fabric, with tufting, for some added textural interest. This piece compliments the room and provides a comfortable place to put your feet up or place a tray on for drinks and hor’s d’oerves. We suggest a new pair of Nadia Club Chairs  to flank your sofa. We love the sophistication and softly curved arms that echo the lines of the Emeline Side Tables too! We have placed the classic Olivia Side Table in between the two chairs for a reflective accent and a functional side piece to use when you have company. To soften up some of the hard lines in your living room, we recommend some sheer drapery panels for interest, elegance and a fabulous finish for your windows.

To update and freshen your dining room we are recommending the following. We have selected the Adelaide Rug for under our Casa Florentina 48” Benito Dining Table, to keep the blue and neutrals consistent with the living room. We have selected our oh so comfortable and classic Louis XVI Oval Dining Chair upholstered in the Esra fabric and trimmed with a contrast welt in the Signature Velvet Oasis. We love the fresh feel of the Layla Chandelier in silver, for sparkle and shine over your new dining table.

We hope this gives you a great place to begin in styling your living and dining room.

Happy Decorating!!

The Design Team

Updating a 90's townhouse with a neutral and blue color palette

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How to Decorate Team

We enjoy spending days interacting with How to Decorate readers. From answering Design Dilemmas to writing How To articles and working with guest designers, our passion is to provide informative and accurate resources to help people solve their design problems.